Legislative Bulletin – Thursday, June 18, 2020

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
GOVERNMENT REPORTS
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

H.R. 7224

The End Chinese Communist Citizenship Act

The bill would prohibit anyone who is a member of the “Chinese Communist Party or its successor” from becoming a U.S. citizen. The bill would apply to those who are related to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and to those who have previously terminated their membership with the party, two typical exceptions to citizenship restrictions.

Sponsored by Representative Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pennsylvania) (0 cosponsors)

06/15/2020 Introduced in the House by Representative Reschenthaler

06/15/2020 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, June 22, 2020

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session Thursday, June 25, 2020 and Friday, June 26, 2020

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

CBP Oversight: Examining the Evolving Challenges Facing the Agency

Date: Thursday, June 25, 2020 (Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee)

Location: 562 Dirksen Senate Office Building and via Videoconference

Witnesses:

Mark Morgan, Chief Operating Officer, Senior Officer Performing the Duties of Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Legal

Supreme Court Rules Administration Wrongly Ended DACA, Leaves Program in Place

In a 5-4 ruling on June 18, the Supreme Court ruled to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in place, finding that the Trump administration’s 2017 rationale for ending the program was “arbitrary and capricious.” The Court ruled that it could review the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) decision to rescind DACA under the Administrative Procedure Act, and concluded that DHS “failed to consider important aspects of the problem before the agency,” including “what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients.” The ruling allows the approximately 650,000 DACA recipients to continue to work and be protected from deportation.

While the ruling found the administration’s reasoning for rescinding DACA was inadequate, it did not preclude further attempts to end the program, as long as the administration uses more considered rationale.

There was broad support for the decision among faith leaders, business leaders, immigration advocates, and others. In a statement, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said that, “I believe the Supreme Court has thrust upon us a unique moment and opportunity. We need to take action and pass legislation that will unequivocally allow these young men and women to stay in the only home, in the only country, they’ve known.” According to polls, 85% of Americans, including 69% of President Trump voters, support legal status for Dreamers.

Supreme Court Declines to Review Trump Administration’s Challenge to California “Sanctuary” Law

On June 15, the Supreme Court declined to review the Trump administration’s legal challenge of California Senate Bill (S.B.) 54, a 2017 California state law that limits local law enforcement’s participation in immigration enforcement efforts against non-violent persons. The law, which aims to increase trust between local law enforcement entities and immigrant communities, generally prohibits state and local law enforcement from using either personnel or funds to hold, question or share information about people with federal immigration agents. S.B. 54 contains several significant exceptions that allow cooperation with federal authorities in situations where individuals have been convicted of one or more crimes from a list of over 800 crimes.

In challenging the law, the Trump administration claimed that it impeded federal immigration priorities and made it more difficult for ICE to detain aliens with criminal records. Lower courts ruled against the administration, stating that “[r]efusing to help is not the same as impeding.” The Supreme Court, in declining to hear the administration’s petition, let stand the lower court decision affirming the constitutionality of the law.

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Legality of Immigrant Detention and Deportation Procedures

On June 15, the Supreme Court agreed to review a case which hinges on whether unauthorized immigrants undergoing “reinstated” removal proceedings can be released on bond, or whether they must be held in detention until their deportation. Reinstated removal proceedings occur when a previously removed unauthorized immigrant reenters the United States and is subsequently re-apprehended by immigration officials. Immigrants undergoing these proceedings are eligible for deferral or cancellation of removal if they have a credible fear of being persecuted in their home country.

Lower courts disagreed on whether these immigrants can be released on bond while awaiting a decision on requested relief from removal.

Federal

Businesses, Universities Urge Administration to Preserve Work Visas as Restrictions Delayed

Leaders representing American businesses and academic institutions have urged the Trump administration to preserve temporary worker programs, as planned immigration restrictions continue to be delayed. The most recent letters to the administration on the issue include a June 11 letter from the CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a June 12 letter from two organizations connected to prominent conservative Charles Koch, and a series of letters and public comments from university presidents and academic associations.

The calls come as multiple reports suggest that the administration is continuing to plan an extension and expansion of the April 22 Proclamation suspending some permanent immigration. That expansion is set to expire on June 23, and while it did not include restrictions on temporary worker programs, it did require the Department of Homeland Security to issue recommendations on potential changes to those programs by May 22. With that deadline past, the administration is reportedly considering a suspension on H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and J-1 temporary worker programs and restrictions on Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows international students to stay and work for one to three years after they graduate.

In their letters to the administration, the business and academic leaders described the significant economic contributions of temporary immigrant workers. Tom Donahue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wrote that even “short term disruptions” in nonimmigrant visa programs could “hamper businesses’ ability to make long-term planning and domestic investment decisions.” Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University, said that efforts to restrict the OPT program take an “incomplete view about how to drive economic growth.”

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues to Affect USCIS Services

A June 12 news article stated that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had issued guidance to its employees to halt green card processing for applicants already living in the country. The guidance noted that the halt was tied to the President’s April 22 Proclamation suspending some permanent immigration from abroad, although that proclamation explicitly exempted those applying for green cards domestically. USCIS reportedly sent a June 10 email to employees that the “general hold” on permanent residency applications filed domestically would continue with some exceptions. It is not clear how long the hold has been in effect.

USCIS said the processing suspension stemmed from the temporary suspension of in-person services during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it acknowledged that the initial guidance that had linked the hold to the April Presidential Proclamation included “incorrect information” and has been removed.

While green card processing remains delayed, USCIS has begun to reinstate naturalization ceremonies, including a drive thru option. Hundreds of thousands of ceremonies were postponed after USCIS shut down its office in mid-March and failed to conduct virtual oath ceremonies. While the ceremonies have slowly started back up again in early June, the naturalization backlog continues to grow. On June 12, a class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of two permanent residents whose naturalization ceremonies were cancelled. On June 17, it was reported that Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) sent a letter to USCIS requesting the agency to administer remote oath ceremonies.

News of the limited reopening of USCIS offices and services comes as the fee-based agency continues to face budgetary shortfalls. The agency has indicated that it will need emergency supplemental funding from Congress, stating that without this support it would be forced to furlough some 13,400 of its 19,000 workers. The furloughs, initially anticipated for mid-July, have been pushed back to early August after the agency took steps to reduce expenses.

Administration Extends Non-Essential Travel Restrictions at the Border

On June 16, the Trump administration announced that it would extend restrictions on non-essential travel across the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada for an additional month. These restrictions, first implemented in March 2020, have been extended several times and were set to expire on June 23. The restrictions have had a significant negative economic impact on border localities due to the lack of tourism, shopping, and other forms of cross-border travel. On June 10, a group of Southwest border elected officials and business leaders called on the administration to ease travel restrictions, noting that “we must protect minority-owned small businesses, cross border trade, and the influence of daily travelers between our countries who invest in binational commerce through the goods and services they acquire.”

The administration had previously indefinitely extended restrictions on unauthorized border crossers, including asylum seekers and unaccompanied children. According to data released on June 12, these restrictions resulted in the rapid expulsion of 19,707 border crossers in the month of May. Arrests of migrants crossing the border rose 36% in the same time period.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Office of the Inspector General (OIG): Capping Report: CBP Struggled to Provide Adequate Detention Conditions During 2019 Migrant Surge, June 12, 2020

This report describes the ways in which Customs and Border Protection (CBP) provided substandard detention conditions to migrants during Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. The OIG carried out unannounced inspections of 21 CBP facilities, finding that several had exceeded maximum capacity and struggled to manage overcrowding. Overcrowding also made it difficult for CBP to manage contagious illnesses within the facilities, and in some locations, certain standards for detainee care were not met. The OIG’s recommendations included increased telephone access for unaccompanied children and increased emphasis on the proper handling of detainee property. CBP concurred with the OIG’s recommendations.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Noorani Responds to Supreme Court DACA Decision

In this press statement, National Immigration Forum President and CEO Ali Noorani reacts to the Supreme Court decision allowing DACA to remain in place. The statement describes the many contributions of DACA recipients and notes that the ruling provides only temporary relief, underscoring the need for a permanent legislative solution.

The Trump Administration’s Proposed Changes to the U.S. Asylum System

This resource summarizes and analyses the administration’s June 15 proposed asylum rule, which includes sweeping restrictions that would affect almost every part of the U.S. asylum system. The resource notes the rule is open for public comment until July 15.

Immigration Related Executive Actions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This list provides an overview of the 47 (and counting) immigration-related actions implemented by the administration during the COVID-19 pandemic. The list separates the actions by who is impacted and highlights indefinite and particularly concerning actions.

* * *

*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Danilo Zak, National Immigration Forum Policy and Advocacy Associate, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Danilo can be reached at dzak@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.

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